In response to the COVID-19 health crisis, Governor Phil Murphy signed a law (“Notary Law”) that allows documents to be notarized using remote technology. Remote notarization may continue for the duration of the public health emergency. The Notary Law applies to notaries public in the State as well as other officers authorized to take oaths, affirmations, and affidavits, or acknowledgements, such as New Jersey attorneys or county clerks. The notary public or officer and the individual must connect via simultaneous audio and visual technology.
Remote notarization may be used if the notary public or officer:
- has personal knowledge of the identity of the individual appearing before the notary public or officer based on prior dealings with the individual;
- has satisfactory evidence of the identity of the individual by oath or affirmation from a credible witness appearing before the notary public or officer; or
- has obtained satisfactory evidence of the identity of the individual by using at least two different types of identity proofing.
The notary public or officer must reasonably confirm the record is the same record to be executed by individual. In addition, the notary public or officer must indicate on the document that the notarial act was performed remotely.
The notary public or officer must create and retain an audio-visual recording of the notarial act for ten years.
Any fiduciary appointed for a notary public or officer who performed a notarial act under this legislation, including a fiduciary appointed after a notary public or officer’s death, must retain the records for ten years.
The State Treasurer may adopt additional rules and append certain provisions to implement the law. The Notary Law applies to the creation and execution of wills and codicils. Therefore, individuals may now complete their estate planning remotely. The Notary Law, however, does not amend the inperson witness requirements for will execution.
The Notary Law further outlines restrictions for individuals who are located outside the United States, certain documents subject to the Uniform Commercial Code, and family law matters.
At bottom, the Notary Law serves as an important step in removing roadblocks so that the public may carry on with business and personal transactions in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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